Tuesday, February 4, 2014

T-Minus 19 Hours and 20 Minutes Till I Board for Haiti

I have been thinking a lot lately about starting up the blog since I stopped about a year and a half ago.. I guess this is the perfect time!

At 6:50 AM tomorrow morning Paige Graves, a horticulture Master's student, and I will be departing cold (though not Kentucky cold), rainy College Station, TX, leaving our fellow Aggies behind only to create new ones.. in Haiti (insert prayer request here). We will be working as Graduate Researchers for Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Live Beyond in Thomazeau, Haiti.

Live Beyond is a 501(c)3 non-profit humanitarian organization, formerly Mobile Medical Disaster Relief. Their website defines the following as their mission statement:

"We are an organization that chooses to Live Beyond... ourselves, our culture, our borders & this life so that others can Live Beyond ... disease, hunger, poverty & despair."

Live Beyond was founded as, and focuses on, medical relief. However, they are looking to expand into agriculture in order to encompass human nutrition. I'm often told the story of how Dr. Vanderpool (founder, CEO) says that according to what he was taught in med school, the women should not be alive because of such a low BMI.. but they aren't just alive, they are nursing children, and often have another on the way! Through agriculture we hope to fight malnutrition in pregnant and nursing women, and in people in general. Furthermore, through agricultural development we can help in alleviating some of the heart-breaking poverty that exists in the poor nation.

While in Haiti I will be particularly focused on a few things in regard to research, while remaining open to additional opportunities for data collection. While Paige focuses more on the horticulture and crop side of things with the people, I will be focused on more animal science and social sciences. We (in regard to my research focuses) are looking at conducting some small holder projects with poultry, beginning effective goat production, and conducting needs assessments on about anything that can be observed, specifically livestock production and youth development via agriculture.

With almost no scientific literature on Haiti, the sky is the limit. The great thing about this whole shindig though is that during our pre-departure meetings/briefings (and we have had a lot) we have constantly been reminded about what it means to be an Aggie. Our professors and advisors have told us that research is important, but if we do not get involved with the community and some outreach to personally change lives, then we will not be as effective and we will not have the same personal reward and growth. They have emphasized over and over outreach. Atop of that, we are the "guinea pigs" of this "project" that has plans to be long term to shake Haiti and create better lives for Haitians. It is our job to help lay a foundation so that Aggies will always have a presence in the lives of the people, helping them, educating them, and showing them what it means to be a Fightin' Texas Aggie.

As I conclude my long rambling, I plan to update my blog as much as possible, so check in on it and share it with your friends, and I can only hope it inspires you to make an impact in this world. We can show people the Hope by helping them get a little taste of Heaven; whether it's in Clay, KY, the Philippines, Haiti, College Station, TX, no matter where it is.. we are the light on a hill.. so let's shine!

In Christ; Our Savior,

Audie Cherry

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